The research work of Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann in the 1970s led to the identification of five styles of conflict and the development of a widely used self-assessment called the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, or TKI.
Their work suggested that we all have a preferred way to deal with conflict which serves us well in some situations, but not all.
Each style is a way to meet one's needs in a dispute but may impact other people in different ways.
By understanding each style and its consequences, we may normalize the results of our behaviors in various situations.
However, if accommodation is the only style a person utilizes, he or she is advised to learn more skills. The classic compromise in negotiating is to "split the difference" between two positions.
While there is no victor from compromise, each person also fails to achieve her or his original goal.
For example, when the relationship is short-term and the issue is not important or when the situation has a potential to escalate to violence, avoidance may be the prudent choice.
Some examples of avoidance behaviors include: - Saying the issue isn't important enough to spend time on - Saying there isn't enough time to do the topic justice - Gunnysacking - Being overly polite - Defining any emotion as discord and calling for objectivity when discussing differences - Smoothing over discord whenever a difference arises, so differences never are discussed - Focusing on details to the exclusion of the real issues - Demanding rationality whenever emotions arise - Attacking the other person verbally - Using evasive remarks to avoid sensitive topics - Shifting the topic away from the conflict - Avoiding topics where conflict may occur - Making noncommittal statements that sound like, but are not really, agreement - Keeping conversations at an abstract level - Joking to distract from the real issues in a conflict While always choosing competition has negative repercussions for relationships, businesses and cultures, it can occasionally be the right style to choose if the other party is firmly fixed in a competitive style or there are genuinely scarce resources.Employee conflict is a cause of concern for employers, leaders and project managers because it often leads to lost productivity and damaged morale.Project managers must learn to handle interpersonal conflict on their project teams.This is not to say, "Thou shalt collaborate" in a moralizing way, but to indicate the expected consequences of each approach: If we use a competing style, we might force the others to accept 'our' solution, but this acceptance may be accompanied by fear and resentment.If we accommodate, the relationship may proceed smoothly, but we may build up frustrations that our needs are going unmet.This is a style where both sides of the conflict come together in order to achieve the goals of each person and is often referred to as creating a “.” Collaborating can be an effective style for complex scenarios where there is an opportunity to explore multiple options.